Archbishop isn't concerned by Pope's 'radical' views: 'He sees the person first'


Louisville Archbishop and U.S Conference of Catholics President Joseph Kurtz recently voiced support for Pope Francis following criticism of the Catholic leader in recent months.

Archbishop Kurtz commended the pope for his message of simplicity and peace during the holiday season, and defended Francis' liberal stance.

The pontiff's liberal approach to homosexuality, divorced Catholics, and other issues has caused dissention between conservative and liberals within the Church – leading his biographer to refer to him as a "radical."

"Dynamic disconcerting leadership, which while delighting most Catholics and attracting people beyond the boundaries of faith, has dismayed and disconcerted number of parties within the church," Austen Ivereigh wrote in "The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope."

Kurtz argued that "radical" has a different meaning in that context.

"I think the fact that he sees the person first," the archbishop explained. "He has often said that he favours reality over idea. It's not that he doesn't want to talk about ideas, but he doesn't want to gets so far away and argue about ideas that you miss the person in front of you.

"The pope always adds, 'I'm the son of the church. I'm not one to change doctrine, I know there's something beautiful in the doctrine, and in the truth of Christ, but in doing that, wasn't it Jesus who saw the person first in front?'" he continued.

"I think that's' what Pope Francis is doing and basically saying the role of the Holy Father is to serve and the role of those who assist him is to serve ... And I hope when I go back to Louisville, Kentucky, that I'm able to say, that's what I want to do I want to serve people which is getting again to use that word radical getting back to the roots. Our mission is to present Jesus Christ to the world in every age."

Pope Francis recently urged Catholics to be "missionaries of joy" during the holiday season, and to "think of all the good things life has given you" instead of focusing on worldly things. Kurtz said such statements are evidence of Francis' humility.

"Our holy father comes through as someone who is just living a simple life, he's not acting out something, he's simply living that life of joy," Kurtz told CBS News. "I think he lives in the present moment."